Shanghai – More than 80 people were arrested by Chinese police while 3,000 fake doses of Covid-19 vaccines were confiscated as part of an initiative to combat vaccine-related crimes, reported state news agency Xinhua.
Since at least Sep 2020, the suspects have been engaged in manufacturing and profiting from the counterfeit doses’ sale, said Xinhua on Monday (Feb 1).
A joint action campaign by police in Beijing and East China’s Jiangsu and Shandong provinces and other regions led to the case being solved. All fake vaccines were tracked down as the activity was scatted across multiple cities.
Although the vaccines’ destination was not revealed, a source close to a major Chinese vaccine producer informed the government-backed newspaper Global Times that the suspects might have planned to export them abroad.
According to the same source, a group of people succeeded in smuggling vaccines into Africa in the past. It is not known how they were able to exit the country, the report noted.
The counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines were made by injecting saline into pre-filled syringes which are then sold at high prices.
“The ‘vaccines’ filled with saline will for sure have no effect, but neither will it cause health problems, so it is clear that the suspects wanted money, not hurt people,” said Shanghai-based vaccine expert Tao Lina to the Global Times.
A special campaign to crack down on illegal production and sale of fake vaccines, smuggling such vaccines, illegal vaccination, among other vaccine-related crimes, was launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security.
Public security departments have also investigated vaccine manufacturers several times to confirm that the counterfeit doses were made by suspects and not sourced from the manufacturers.
Dr Lina disclosed that the recipients of the counterfeit vaccine could not have been vaccination institutions officially registered by the centers for disease control and prevention, noting “they all know the risk of receiving fake vaccines is too great.” The identity of the “customers” of the fake vaccines remains unknown./TISG